Senate can activate special mechanism for ‘outsider’ PM: Constitutional Court

Citing the 7 August referendum results, Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the junta-backed draft charter must give the junta-appointed senate the right to activate the special mechanism to allow an ‘outsider’ Prime Minister.    
 
 
Photo courtesy of Matichon Online
 
On 28 September 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that the final version of the junta-backed draft charter must provide the junta-appointed senate with the right to activate the opportunity for an ‘outsider’ PM. The verdict came after the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), the junta-appointed charter drafters, submitted its latest draft to the Court on 30 August for final approval, reported Matichon Online.
 
After the additional question passed the 7 August referendum in a landslide, the CDC had been assigned to amend the draft charter to accommodate the result. 
 
The complex wording of the question was: ‘Do you or do you not agree that for the sake of continuing national reform in pursuance of the strategic plan, it is appropriate to specify as a transitional measure that for the first five years from the convening of the first parliament under this constitution, the prime minister shall be approved by a joint session of parliament?’
 
In practical terms, this gives the 250-seat junta-appointed senate the right to approve the PM jointly with the lower house for five years after the draft is ratified. The CDC then amended Article 272 in the Provisional Section of the Constitution to allow the senate to jointly approve the Prime Minister but parliament must select the PM from the lists of candidates proposed by political parties.
 
However, in the event that the lower house cannot reach a consensus on who, from the lists of candidates, should be Prime Minister, the amended version states that parliament can select a person not on the candidate lists only when at least half of all MPs petition the National Assembly (the Senate combined with the lower house) to activate this special mechanism.
 
Nonetheless, the Constitutional Court ruled that the amendment does not yet reflect the referendum result. The court then ordered the CDC to amend the draft again to allow the senate to vote jointly with the lower house to activate the special mechanism.